Police investigator Judge is ‘CSI’ in real life

Published 9:29 am Thursday, January 22, 2015

CSI: Curtis Judge is a crime scene investigator with the Vicksburg Police Department.

CSI: Curtis Judge is a crime scene investigator with the Vicksburg Police Department.

Vicksburg police investigator Curtis Judge’s job isn’t as simple as it seems on TV.

Judge is one of the department’s crime scene investigators, and while he deploys plenty of gadgets, and looks at lots and lots of photos and video, things aren’t at all like the CBS television drama “CSI” that portrays his profession.

“Movies and television play a big role in what people think of investigations but they don’t really understand the ins and outs of what it takes to make a case,” Judge said.

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In reality, results of fingerprints aren’t in a massive instantly searchable database. Video can’t be enhanced to a thousand times its resolution, and fingerprints just aren’t everywhere.

“It doesn’t come back instantly or even in a day,” Judge said. “The results aren’t overnight. It’s not ‘CSI.’”

Investigation techniques also can take much longer than the 60 minutes given to television’s “CSI” detectives. It’s more Sherlock Holmes than Hollywood glitz and glam.

“In most cases you’re just looking to see what you can find. The evidence is going to be there. You’ve got to find it,” Judge said.

Finding evidence can mean dusting for fingerprints, measuring blood spatter, scouring a vehicle or spending hours on end or pouring though crime scene photographs seeking that clue that will break the case wide open.

“Sometimes it’s a thing you think of as nothing, and it changes the whole scenario of the case,” he said.

Judge began as a patrolman in June 2003, and has been an investigator with VPD since February 2012.

“Judge was selected to be in investigation because of the job that he did as a patrol officer. He paid attention to details. He was thorough in doing his job, thereby he prepared himself to be elevated to investigations,” Chief Walter Armstrong said. “If we’re to solve the cases and get a conviction, we’ve got to make sure that investigators are very knowledgeable. Investigator Judge rose to that occasion as a patrol officer.”

Thoroughness is certainly key in cracking cases. Judge said he spends hours thinking about cases and evidence he’s collected.

“Sometimes I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with an idea about a case. I’ll write it down or send a text to one of the other investigators,” he said.

Judge is a native of Vicksburg, so he certainly knows the city, Armstrong said.

“That in itself has made him an asset as a police officer,” Armstrong said.

Helping solve crimes in his hometown gives him a sense of pride, Judge said.

“When I first started, I thought it was going to be an issue but it’s actually helped me,” Judge said. “People trust me and know me. It’s been a real help to me being from here.”

In addition to the forensic investigations of crime scenes, Judge and other investigators deal with all types of felony cases. They work nine-hour shifts each day, usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. That might not seem like peak hours for crime, but when people go to work, so do burglars.

“We have crimes where people say ‘That doesn’t happen in the daytime,’ but yes it does. There’s no specific time for crime,” Judge said.